The Thirds is a three-piece band comprised of JJ Padovani (guitar/vocals/keys), Alex Cribb (bass/guitar) and Sean Godreau (drums). Their release Hot Mess feels like a random concoction of songs. At their best they have some resemblance to Guided by Voices but they also try and pull off some acoustic material with an Elliott Smith type vibe The album doesn't have much of a sense of unity and usually that means the artist is wearing his influences on his sleeve or is still searching for their own sound or both.
Truth be told the hardest thing to get past is the recording quality. Some of the songs have potential but are held back. If there is one thing this music needs more than anything it is volume control. The band desperately needs to be taught how to work with a compressor or even a limiter because there are elements like the vocals which go from way up front in the mix to way in the back. The most offending and odd thing I heard was on “How I Learned To Play Guitar (Live in Oslo 1974)” which sounds like someone was fiddling with the master volume during the song. It almost sounded like some kind of ducking effect.
Hot Mess does have some inspired moments such as the first song. It’s a fun, fast-paced song that has a number of things in common with The Minuteman. I noticed a strong, alpha-like bass line Mike Watts would appreciate and the song’s short duration of around a-minute-and-a-half. The song would have been great hadn't it been for the shifts in overall volume that happen which pull you out of the song.
The song “Self-Aware” is certainly that. Padovani sings about being overly self-aware. Up next is “Eternal Winter/Showers and Thunderstorms/The Lake” which sounds like nothing that came before it. It’s an acoustic based song and arguably the best vocal performance. The soft, intimate melancholy gets kind of silly and then dark and experimental. It didn't all work but there were pockets that did. I have to give it up for someone that is willing to take a chance and at least he was willing to do that.
On the next track “Backslider's Lament” the word “fuck” loses its potency because he overuses the word while “Come In From The Cold” tips it hat to Elliot Smith.
The Thirds are probably a young band because it doesn't seem like they have any type of direction. The more you listen to their EP the more it just feels like a bunch of songs that were randomly thrown together. I would encourage the band to do some more jamming to at least figure out a general direction. Other than that the next time they record I hope they at the very least import the files in a DAW and utilize a compressor or at least automate the track volume.
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